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50 Years Ago: Labour and the TSR2

One of the latest babies of British capitalism, proudly wheeled out by its doting parents, is the TSR-2.

This aircraft, it is claimed, can do almost anything by way of airborne destruction. In its ability to perform the most horrifying deeds, in the range of its destructive power, in its diabolical versatility, the TSR-2 is something like a precocious, delinquent child.

These horrors are going to cost something like a couple of million pounds each. Commenting on this, Mr. Denis Healey, the Labour M.P. (who put the cost at £20 million each), asked what this sum represented in terms of schools, hospitals, and so on. This is a common complaint, whenever the amount of money which capitalism spends upon weapons is discussed. Yet what do the Healeys expect? Capitalism has a list of priorities to which it allocates its resources and human comfort is not near the top of it. This was as true under the Labour government which Mr. Healey supported as under the Tory one which he attacks.

Indeed, Mr. Healey showed how small are the differences between his own party and the Tories on the issue of armaments when he went on to say that the TSR-2 is a waste of money, which could better be spent on military helicopters and other transport aircraft and on the Buccaneer, a naval strike 'plane which is already in service

The best, then, that the Labour Party offers us on the matter of armaments policy is to look after the purse strings more carefully than the Conservatives have done. They will try to make sure that every penny the British ruling class spend on their weapons gets value for money.

(from ‘News in Review’, Socialist Standard, December 1963)